Chinese realty tycoon Ren Zhiqiang is known in the Chinese Communist Party for being an outspoken maverick. Ren, former chief of Beijing Huayuan Group, a state-owned developer, again managed to stoke fresh opposition to Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this month with an opinion piece that went viral. In his tirade crucifying the top leader, Ren called Xi a “clown” and likened him to the emperor in the famous story by Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen.
By Frank Chen
SOURCE: ASIA TIMES
Ren, a member of the party’s princeling clique whose father served as a deputy commerce minister under Mao Zedong, did not mince his words when deprecating Xi’s handling of the pneumonic plague in a post headlined “An official call to arms against Xi: The clown who insists on wearing the emperor’s new clothes.”
He said it was “a whistle in the wind” for Xi and his underlings to muzzle people’s simmering anger amid the rampant cover-ups and underreporting following the viral outbreak in Wuhan that began at the end of 2019, and that Xi himself deserved a fair share of the blame due to his inaction and measures implemented too late. “There stands not an emperor in his new clothes but a clown who is stripped of his clothes but still wants to be an emperor,” read the sarcasm-laden piece.
The article attributed to Ren first appeared on Twitter and in some overseas Chinese media outlets earlier this month. Ren’s own account on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service, was shut four years ago. Ren’s call to arms against the “unaccountable Xi,” issued right before the leader flew in to the epidemic epicenter of Wuhan earlier this month, is the latest addition to a string of stinging polemics he has issued over the years since Xi grabbed the mantle of the party and nation in 2012.
Ren, 70, has not been seen since then, and his friends have taken to social media seeking information about his whereabouts. News came out during the past weekend, however, that Ren is being held at a secret prison in a suburb in Beijing and that he may be locked up for no less than 15 years as he has been a recidivist, relentlessly attacking Xi. It is said that his interrogators, dispatched by the party’s commission on discipline inspection, have been given instructions from the top echelon of the central leadership to treat him harshly because he has infuriated the top leader.
Observers say Xi’s fear is that, now that his botched response to the emergence of a highly contagious pathogen in Wuhan has exposed him to sharp jabs from foes within the party, open accusations made by a well-known figure like Ren, a party scion and a businessman-turned opinion leader, may do more harm than broadsides from a dissident, an intellectual or an anti-China firebrand in the West.
Ren has been in Xi’s bad books since 2016, when he was threatened with suspension of his party membership if he continued to heap derision on Xi’s drive to further tighten his grip on China’s already pliant state media. In a memoir published in 2013, Ren revealed that Vice-President Wang Qishan, Xi’s trusted lieutenant in the president’s graft-busting war to amass power, was his high-school classmate in Beijing. CONTINUE READING BY FOLLOWING THE LINK